We first wrote about Coaster CMS a few months ago, but now that the system has had some time to mature I thought it an appropriate time to write a review. In that time Coaster has seen some huge improvements to both its functionality and usability.

What is it?

Coaster CMS is built upon the Laravel PHP framework – famed for its robustness, and loved among web developers. The Coaster dashboard has been revamped to give it a much more modern look, sporting a WordPress inspired news feed and a list of top search terms. Meanwhile the layout has been adjusted to make it more intuitive.

Coaster CMS dashboard

Coaster CMS was built to provide an easy to use content management system for designers, developers and end users. This is accomplished by the use of a block based templating system, of which there are several different types. A string block, used for titles and basic content; a text block, used for slightly longer content without HTML markup; a rich text block, that implements TinyMCE; a video block, integrated with the YouTube API and finally, the repeater block.

The repeater block is particularly interesting as it allows for some very interesting creations. You could for example, build something relatively basic such as a banner slider or possibly something much more complex such as a form builder. The great thing about this block is that it lives by the do not repeat yourself principle. These blocks can be used as many times as you like, and do not require you to make a new block for each piece of content.

Time based versioning

Time based versioning is a pretty neat feature which is, as far as I am aware, not available in any other mainstream CMS. This feature allows you to publish content based upon date specific criteria. This works wonders for content that you only wish to have published during a specific point in time – such as a seasonal holiday.

Time based versioning is a pretty neat feature which is, as far as I am aware, not available in any other mainstream CMS.

Each revision of content is archived for future reference. Therefore you can easily select which version of a page you want to set live during a specific time. Once this criteria is met, the current version will be unpublished with the new version taking its place. At the end date, the page will automatically revert back to its original state.

Internet of Things

The Internet of Things (IoT) is a hot topic at the moment, for both good and bad reasons – you may remember the recent vulnerability resulting in an IoT botnet. However, it’s early days and with time these vulnerabilities will hopefully iron themselves out. Nonetheless, we’re not here to debate the flaws of the physical web, and instead are here to talk about Coaster.

Coaster CMS provides a management dashboard for keeping track of your physical web devices, specifically beacons. Pages can be assigned to specific beacons, such that when a device comes into range, the URL will broadcast to that device. We expect this sort of technology to grow over the next coming years due to the proliferation of proximity marketing. Coaster being an early adopter of this technology, may give them a keen edge in this market.

Conclusion

Coaster CMS is great for those looking for a modern and powerful content management system that can handle everything you need a CMS to do. The version control proves exceptionally useful for making painless changes to your website’s content and integration with the physical web provides a portal to the future.